A BUSINESS run by two pals in Bolton is proving to be a fruitful venture — in more ways than one.
Sarah Longlands, aged 37, and Lisa Kidd, aged 38, have gone from making jam for family and friends to producing 150 jars in a single day from a kitchen in Smithills.
Their I Heart Jam brand is going from strength to strength and Ms Longlands is urging others who would like to turn a hobby or passion into a business to give it a go.
She said: “We were a bit daunted to start off with. We did a lot of testing on family and friends.
“We started off really small, it was nerve-wracking. We spent a lot of time on the look of the product.
“We’ve learned so much in the past year-and-a-half. We’ve both grown in confidence. It’s been a really positive experience.”
The pair have been friends for eight years and aim to spend one day a week producing jars of tasty jam from Ms Longlands house in Frankfurt Avenue. They use as much local produce as possible, with all the rhubarb and gooseberries coming from Bolton.
Ms Longlands, whose favourite jam is peach melba, said: “We’ve been friends for a long time and I’ve always made jam. My mum made jam. I come from a long line of jam makers.
“The main reason I made a lot of it, I have a big allotment and have tonnes of fruit.
“Lisa loves strawberry and rhubarb and said, ‘You’re going to have to teach me how to make this jam.’”
They decided to start selling it and set up the business last September, starting off at a summer fair in Eagley.
Ms Longlands, from Northern Ireland, said: “We used that as our first trial and tested it out with 20 jars that we made in odd pots and we sold them all.”
As well as the jam venture, which can see the pair sell 100 jars in a month depending on the season, Ms Longlands is studying for a PhD in urban planning through Glasgow University and Mrs Kidd works as a part-time environmental health consultant.
They produce the jam seasonally with plum and mulled wine and spiced apple jelly proving popular over Christmas, while Seville oranges will be used once spring arrives.
Speaking of the future of the business, Ms Longlands said: “We’re not quite sure at the moment, we’re still getting our heads round it.
“It will depend how the business grows. I think, just wait and see what happens. Twitter has been really good. That would be my advice.”
She says her dream would be to see their product stocked in high-end department stores and shops.
Ms Longlands, who says damson jam tastes even better than strawberry on cream teas, said: “I think we see it as a really high-quality product. We try to use as much British produce as we can. Our dream long term would be to see it in Harrods or Selfridges.”
Every week her kitchen, which has been checked by council inspectors, becomes a hub of jam production.
Ms Longlands, who used to work for a company in Manchester in the field of economic development and regen-eration, said: “I’ve always been a big supporter of local economies. It’s about developing a place from within.
“It’s like a whole new world of market trading and farmers’ markets. We’ve met lots of people who make chutneys and crafts.
“We are getting better at learning where we can become more efficient. The biggest cost is the labour because it takes so much time to make the jam. We never thought we’d get to where we are.”
I Heart Jam is stocked by various outlets including The Wellbeing Farm, Edgworth, and The Salad Bowl, Horwich.